Pros and Cons of Ocean Freight Shipping


Industry Encyclopedia

For businesses wondering whether ocean freight shipping is the right choice for their supply chain, it’s essential to consider the pros and cons of this method. Consider these fundamental factors when deciding whether to use ocean freight shipping: 


  1. Ocean freight shipping is by far the most cost-effective option for shipping bulk goods a long distance. It’s easy to scale and becomes more cost-effective the more cargo a business ships at once. 
  2. Ocean freight shipping is the only option for intercontinental shipping other than air freight, which is often prohibitively expensive.
  3. Ocean freight shipping can be an efficient option for shipping large, bulky goods that are difficult to transport via other methods. 
  4. Ocean freight shipping has a relatively low carbon footprint compared to other shipping modes because a single cargo ship is capable of shipping such a large amount of goods. 
  5. Ocean freight shipping can transport some types of goods that can’t be shipped via air transport, such as certain hazardous chemicals. 


  1. Ocean freight shipping is the slowest method of moving goods. Shipping times will obviously depend on distance, but intercontinental shipments will often take at least two weeks from origin to destination, and some may take much longer. 
  2. Ocean freight shipping is much less cost-effective when shipping small quantities of goods, although using techniques like LCL shipping can help. 
  3. Ocean freight shipping requires completing a great deal of paperwork and may involve more fees than other types of shipping. 
  4. Ocean freight shipping can be more vulnerable to port delays than some other methods due to the massive amount of resources required to load and unload a ship.

For businesses shipping bulk goods from another continent, ocean freight shipping will almost always be the default choice.  To provide one key example, marine freight is the cornerstone of the global supply chain for Chinese goods.  Other types of businesses can also benefit from the economical nature of ocean freight shipping, but they should consider marine freight as one tool in their kit alongside the road, rail, and air freight.